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Facebook Activity Does Not Lead to Depression

Facebook Activity Does Not Lead to DepressionA new study refutes earlier findings that linked the amount of time spent on Facebook and other social media sites to depression.

Researchers believe it may be unnecessarily alarming to advise patients and parents on the risk of “Facebook Depression” based solely on the amount of Internet use.

The results of the study by The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health researchers are published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

The new report counters last year’s American Academy of Pediatrics study that suggested exposure to Facebook could lead to depression.

In the current study, researchers led by Lauren Jelenchick and Dr. Megan Moreno surveyed 190 University of Wisconsin-Madison students between the ages of 18 and 23, using a real-time assessment of Internet activity and a validated, clinical screening method for depression.

The students were surveyed with 43 text-message questionnaires at random intervals over a seven-day period between February and December of 2011.

The students were asked if they were currently online, how many minutes they had been online and what they were doing on the Internet.

Researchers discovered survey participants were on Facebook for over half of the total time online.

Evaluation of the data, including the depression screening results, discovered no significant associations between social media use and the probability of depression.

“Our study is the first to present scientific evidence on the suggested link between social media use and risk of depression,” said Jelenchick.

“The findings have important implications for clinicians who may prematurely alarm parents about social media use and depression risks.”

Moreno, a pediatrician who has been widely published in the area of social media use among children and adolescents, advises parents to look at their children’s social media use in the context of their entire lives.

She says parents don’t have to be overly concerned if their child’s behavior and mood haven’t changed, they have friends and their schoolwork is consistent.

“While the amount of time on Facebook is not associated with depression, we encourage parents to be active role models and teachers on safe and balanced media use for their children,” said Moreno.

Experts report that more than 70 percent of adolescents use social media sites, most commonly Facebook.

Source: University of Wisconsin

Young woman on computer photo by shutterstock.

Facebook Activity Does Not Lead to Depression

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Facebook Activity Does Not Lead to Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 10 Jul 2012)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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